Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Semi-Kinda-Sorta Book Review: MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche - March 1, 2012

I spent part of last weekend being both sick in bed and reading (in between helping out with the kid, of course - no sick days for mamas, especially with a kid with CP, but my husband really did largely take over yesterday when the DOOM came over me). And what was I reading? MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. I had read about this book...somewhere...and put it on my to-get-from-the-library list. I could REALLY identify with the idea of wanting new friends while living in a new city and not knowing where to start.

Background: I moved to Atlanta knowing just one person (and her husband and the Margarita Friday crew), and while she and I are still very close and I adore her, she lives a bit far from me and we don't see each other all that often and I stopped going to Margarita Friday once I got pregnant (and the group kind of splintered after that, though I still am in touch with several people I met through it). I've built my social circle from scratch, more or less, but lately I've still been feeling really lonely and craving that mysterious BFF-ness that Bertsche muses on throughout the book.

Now I will tell you that I finished the book thinking "Why, I'd make a PERFECT friend for Rachel!" And we do have a lot in common - agnostic Jews! writers! the magazine connection! (She worked at O, I was a Sassy intern!) I love New York so much! I love last-minute plans too! But uh...yeah, before I sent off a gushy love note (though I may have sent a love tweet) I realized that on top of the whole rather big, obvious problem of that I live in Atlanta and she lives in Chicago (a city that shows up so often in my life that I do think I'm destined to live there someday), there are other issues like my being 10 years older and having a kid with special needs and and...and about a million other things (though if she ever were visiting Atlanta, I bet we'd have fun and I'd take her to touristy stuff AND my favorite cupcake shop). What I think I really was connecting with was that Bertsche writes in a warm and engaging way that really made me WANT to be her friend. If I hadn't liked her so much from the outset, I don't know if I would've been so captivated by her quest. But I did and I was.

I am no stranger to the friend pickup. One of my close friends here became my friend because I asked her out. Seriously. I told her at a mommy-and-me-type event that I liked her purse (because I did!) and then the next week, when I saw her again, I asked her to lunch. We clicked and for a while we met up every single week for kid events followed by yapping over lunch at the same place - the waitress knew us, brought our drinks out immediately, and even gave our kids T-shirts. Both of us have crazy lives (she has a second kid now and a complicated schedule, I have therapies to coordinate and a different complicated schedule) and we don't see each other as often anymore - but for a while that tactic was successful. (I should try it again.) Other friends of mine here are also from the early days of parenthood (some I met at the new mom group when our babies were 2-6 weeks old - and happil,y even after the diagnosis, many of us stayed friends and our kids still play together) or were mutual friends of someone else or were from various other parts of my life. And there are online friends who I haven't met yet but who are local and we keep saying we'll get together (you know who you are!). But I think I need to branch out a bit. I'm feeling inspired. We'll see how it goes. I don't have the time for 52 blind dates but maybe I can finagle two or three?

On that note, however, I have known for a long time that I'm a bad judge of character. Many times in my life I've tried to cultivate a friendship that went sour in a way that I realize was always there but that I'd ignored (sometimes my fault, sometimes his/hers, sometimes both, sometimes nobody). I had very few friends as a kid and was the outcast, the bullied, the loner who was eager to please. I think I've held onto that - I want EVERYONE to like me and I don't always know how to manage that since that's just not always how it works. If that makes any sense at all.

I also am learning that just because I'm a mom and you're a mom doesn't mean we'll get along (anyone can be a mom, it just makes SOME conversations easier. Sometimes. Sometimes it actually makes things much, much worse.). Just because my kid has CP and your kid has CP (or special needs of any kind) doesn't mean we'll get along (as I noted in my last post, CP is a hugely broad term - and it's not like only certain kinds of people have kids with disabilities - I wouldn't want to be friends with certain political candidates, for example, ahem ahem). Those are two things I looked for for a while as friend criteria. If either/or is there, that's awesome (I would love more friends with kids with special needs, to be honest, and I do like my friends-who-are-moms very much, whether they were moms before, during, or after we became friends), but I can't just rely on that. Lately I've been getting along really really well with childfree people - which is a whole blog post in itself actually. Watch for it... But this all means that I don't know WHAT makes someone an ideal friend for me these days.

In any case, I'm going to try to keep my head up and my eyes open and move forward toward maybe finding one or two new friends. Or maybe I'll try to rekindle the friendships that have fallen by the wayside. Or both. I'm not sure. Something needs to change or start. That I know.

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